In The Lobster, Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos conjured a weird and wondrous fable about loneliness, monogamy, and shellfish. Now, in his equally absurd follow-up, The Killing of a Sacred Deer, he’s working in the same deadpan register — but with diminishing returns.
Shot in the slow, hypnotic style of Stanley Kubrick and propelled by what appears to be a classic stalker-thriller plot, the film is bound to enchant some and confound many more. Colin Farrell stars as a cardiovascular surgeon with an ophthalmologist wife (Nicole Kidman) and two teenage kids who forms an odd relationship with the clingy, creepy son (Dunkirk‘s Barry Keoghan) of a patient who died on his operating table. Guilt drives Farrell’s character, but something darker drives the boy. Just how dark will become clear.
Farrell delivers his lines with the same replicant monotone he used in The Lobster. And Kidman, the only cast member who expresses recognizably human emotions, extends her recent hot streak. But even she’s not enough to give this head-scratcher any real life. The Killing of a Sacred Deer is haunting and singular and strange, but it’s also icy, remote, and too enigmatic. Lanthimos dares you to get on his wavelength, then leaves you just hanging there. B-